Thai PM breached Constitution by not reciting full oath: Ombudsman

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in front of a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, while receiving a copy of a July 16 speech by the monarch at a ceremony in Bangkok. Mr Prayut's Cabinet pledged their loyalty to the King last month, but omitted a s
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in front of a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, while receiving a copy of a July 16 speech by the monarch at a ceremony in Bangkok. Mr Prayut's Cabinet pledged their loyalty to the King last month, but omitted a sentence on upholding the Constitution.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANGKOK • Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cabinet breached the Constitution by failing to recite the full oath of allegiance when they were sworn in before the King last month, the Office of the Ombudsman said yesterday.

Mr Prayut and 35 Cabinet ministers pledged their loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn at a ceremony in a Bangkok palace on July 16, but omitted the last sentence on upholding and complying with the Constitution.

"The Prime Minister did not recite all the wording as required by the Constitution," Mr Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman, told reporters. "Therefore, the swearing-in was incomplete."

Mr Raksagecha said the Constitutional Court would have to rule on what needed to be done, because an incomplete oath could mean that all of the government's actions could be seen as unconstitutional.

Mr Prayut declined to comment when reporters asked him about the office's ruling. He had scrapped the previous Constitution when he seized power from an elected government in a 2014 coup. He was army chief at the time.

The current Constitution was drawn up at Mr Prayut's behest. It gives the military a significant role in politics, to the disappointment of pro-democracy activists.

Despite their reservations about the Constitution, activists say the failure of Mr Prayut and his Cabinet to recite the line about upholding it could raise concern about prospects for constitutional rule.

On Aug 8, Mr Prayut said he was taking full responsibility for the omission and apologised, assuring the country that the government would function as normal.

He did not specify how he would rectify the situation.

 
 

Television footage of the ceremony shows Mr Prayut reading from a sheet of paper as he and his Cabinet swore their loyalty to the King and vowed to perform their duties for the benefit of the country and the people, but left out the last part about the Constitution.

Mr Prayut became prime minister with the backing of pro-military members of a new Parliament, elected in a contested March general election.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Prayut and his Cabinet received a written message from the King encouraging the government to perform its duty well and do what was right, a government spokesman said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline 'Thai PM breached Constitution by not reciting full oath: Ombudsman'. Print Edition | Subscribe